Monday, February 1, 2010

Back to the Basics

Preached at Northwest Christian Church
David P. Kautt
Sunday Morning, January 31, 2010.

Psalm 19:7-11: "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the
testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the
LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the
judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be
desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than
honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and
in keeping them there is great reward.

Getting back to basics - I don’t know if I said it, in so many words, but that theme – Getting Back to Basics – has been our theme for this first month of 2010… Though many in our world – yes, even many in the church – seem to live by the Athenian philosophy (Acts 17), spending much of their time talking about - learning about – the latest, the greatest and the NEW-est. I’m convinced, as I’ve said before, that there are some things, some really important things, that we must NOT trade away for what’s behind door #1, 2 or 3.

And what are those things? You remember… the Sanctity of Human Life, Psalm 139 – “Lord, I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Today’s Athenians tell us that the Sanctity of Human Life – valuing what God values from the point of conception all the way to the point of natural death – is old fashioned, too traditional, too narrow minded. So, let’s trade it, let’s trade the Sanctity of Human Life for CHOICE! I say ‘No!’ More importantly, this Book [the Bible] says ‘No!’ Let’s hold onto – let’s get back to the basics of the Sanctity of Human Life.
Secondly, Acts 2:42. Speaking of basics, what does that New Testament text teach us regarding the pattern for our 21st century church? Chase the latest fad? Pursue the new, just because it is new? No! What does the scripture say? It says… “And they continued steadfastly – they earnestly persevered – in the Apostles’ Doctrine, the Fellowship, the Breaking of the Bread, and the prayers. These basis are not negotiable – you know, like a pawn on a chess board, or a token in a TV game show! No! We must not set them aside, or else we’ll change all that God meant the Church to do and be. Back to Basics – it’s a great way to begin the New Year, it’s a great way to live EVERY DAY of the year!

Well, this morning as we leave January – month number one of 2010 behind, let’s wrap up our Back to Basics series with a brief lesson on the B-I-B-L-E. The B-I-B-L-E – I hope that all of you know what that spells! The Bible! B-I-B-L-E - that’s what those 5 letter spell. But, here’s a new one for you, perhaps. B-I-B-L-E what do those 5 letter stand for?

While you are thinking about that, takeout the insert about God’s Word I stuck in your worship bulletin this morning, because we’re going to use it through our lesson today.

B-I-B-L-E – I hope you have your pen handy; write this one down. Those 5 letter stand for these five words:

B-I-B-L-E, Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Talk about getting back to the basics, what could be more BASIC – more essential – than this Book, God’s Book, His love letter, His owner’s manual for you an me?

Sometime ago, a Christian song writer wrote these words –

“We’ve got to get back to the Bible,
or we’re liable to be running in the wrong direction.
A dusty Bible on the coffee table,
might as well be a Christian fable.
We’re got to get back to the Bible…”
Well, I agree with the thrust of that song. But, perhaps what I need – maybe what you need – is not so much another prod to pick up the Bible, but some help once I pick up this Book.
Well, my Dear Ones, hopefully this lesson – and this Bible Guide – will supply that needed help as you and I pick up and open up this, the Book of Books, the Word of God.

The B-I-B-L-E, what is it that you hold in your hands? What do we have here in this Book of Books? Well, I’m not much for statistics, simple for the sake of statistics. Nevertheless, as we being our lesson this morning, take a look at the little box with that title – “Bible Statistics”. Did you know that…
- The Bible has 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament?
- There are 1189 chapters and 31,173 verses in the Bible?
- Psalm 117 is the middle chapter of the Bible?
- Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible?
- Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible?
- The shortest verses in the Bible are John 11:35, and 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Okay, now that you’ve had enough of the numbers, let me ask you a question to test your Bible knowledge. Where in the B-I-B-L-E do I find the 10 commandments? Where do I find the Sermon of the Mount? Where do I find the Parable of the Good Samaritan? The Fruits of the Spirit? Do you need help – like I often do – in finding or remembering where that favorite passage – that important passage – is located? Put a star beside the “Where Do I Find…?” box.
What do we have here in this Book of Books? Do you know? Find the box on your Bible Guide that says, simply, “God’s Word”. Hebrews 4:12-13. Did you know that this Book is the sharpest, most alive double-edge Sword you can find! Did you know that It is inspired of God – literally breathed – and able to make every Christian completely equipped to serve Jesus Christ? 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Or, how about the text we read at the outset? It is this Book, not the latest romance novel, Ladies. Not the latest in the Sports Magazine, Fellows. Not, it is this Book, more precious than gold, sweeter than honey and the honeycomb. It is this Book that gives joy to the heart? (Psalm 19:8)

Basic Instruction Before, that’s the key word, isn’t it? Basic Instructions BEFORE Leaving Earth. One of these days you and I WILL leave this earth. However, before we do, we need answers to some of life’s most important questions! Do you know what God is like? Oh, I know that the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His power. I know that Creation testifies to the existence of a Creator. But, listen. When was the last time a tree made it clear to you that our God is holy? When was the last time that a butterfly told you that our God is a friend of sinners – that He is unchangeable and powerful – and that He will one day be the Judge of all??

Listen, my friends, trees can’t tell you these things. Neither can butterflies. But this Book DOES! Yes, this Book supplies ANSWERS – heaven sent answers – to the questions that really matter! Such as, what is God like? Such as, who is Jesus? Beloved, did you know the Mormons say He is Lucifer’s Brother! Is that what this Book says? The Jehovah’s Witnesses say that He is Michael the arch-angel. Is that what THIS Book says? What is God like? Who is Jesus? What happened on the cross? These eternity-changing questions are answered – NOT in a tract from the Watch Tower… NOT in the Book of Mormon – but HERE, right here, in the Bible, God’s Word!

Basic Instructions – How many of you have trouble keeping Bible people and events and time-frames straight? Does it ever seem like this Book is like a big jig-saw puzzle, and you don’t have the box lid to look at as you put the puzzle together? One of the things I like about this Bible Guide is how simple it is. For example, on the front side it supplies us with a simple time line of Bible people and events. As you study God’s Word, use that time line, and the overview of the Old Testament to kind of ‘get your bearings’ and ‘orient your compass!’ Use it to see how this Book presents history as it ought to be presented – as His-Story! His-Story!

Basic Instructions – Did you ever wish you could sit across the kitchen table from God and ask Him some questions about how to handle money? Now, that’s a big one we all wrestle with, isn’t it? What did we say those 5 letters stand for? Basic – there’s the ‘B’, Instructions – there’s the ‘I’. You want to know what God thinks about money? Don’t go to the Internet, don’t turn on the TV – don’t even hunt down a cope of the Wall Street Journal! No! Look here, in the Word of God! And listen, money is just one of a host of ‘toughies’ we all find challenging to deal with that all are addressed – and, I might add – addressed with infinite wisdom, and infinite care, right here – in THE Book! In God’s Book!

I mentioned a couple of what I call pseudo-Christian cult groups a moment ago, and how we need to know what THIS Book says about Who Jesus is, and what Go is like, so that we won’t be led astray by their false teachings.

We could say the same thing about the occult, and about the so-called New Age movement. These are false faiths, but how will you know that? And how will you know how to handle them when they come at you through TV shows, movies, books, magazines, the Internet, and the like? Take a look at the little box in your Bible Guide entitled “Occultism and the New Age”. There’s a good place to start! Don’t be caught up in their counterfeit miracles, says 2 Thessalonians 2. Don’t go looking for some phony kind of fullness in life that these false faiths promise to give you – they can’t! Fullness of life is found in Jesus Christ – Colossians 2. And, as you confront these false faiths – advertised and espoused by the Ophrah Winfreys of this world, by the Tiger Woods of this word – don’t try to confront them without your armor – Ephesians 6. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the devil’s schemes!

The B-I-B-L-E, I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E – Bible! I love that children’s song, don’t you? But, listen, a lot of times I need help in knowing how to use this Book of Books. A tool or set of tools that will help me utilize these Basic Instructions in the way in which God intended for me to utilize them.

I know that this message has been a little bit different than the kind of messages you are used to hearing. But listen, what is the goal of preaching and teaching God’s Word? Ecclesiastes 12 tells us that the preacher’s task is to impart knowledge to God’s people – through pondering, searching out and setting in order wise, upright, and acceptable words of truth from This Book. The preacher goads God’s people - ‘His sheep’ – along the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake! Yes, the preacher serves as God’s instrument to admonish His children – and as God’s ‘hammer’ to drive ‘nails’ to which God’s people can fasten their lives! But listen, if in all of my doing of all of that, I don’t help you learn how to open up This Book, and use it YOURSELF, I have failed. So, what am I going to do about it?

Here’s what I’m going to do about it. I’m going to send you home with the B-I-B-L-E, and with this ‘tool’, the Bible Guide, to help you use it! Don’t let this Book be a dust collector on you coffee table – nothing more than a Christian fable! No! Use it! “How?” you ask… Use it to direct your prayer life. (This guide suggests using specific passages as the content of your prayers.) Use it to provide for your spiritual life Monday through Saturday. (I highly recommend the “Daily Quiet Time” suggestions offered in the Bible Guide.)

And, what about memorizing some of these Basic Instructions? Need a list to know where to begin? It’s right here, under the heading, “Great Verses to Memorize”. The B-I-B-L-E, we’ve got to get back to it – why? One more time from Psalm 19, verse 11.

“Moreover, by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward.”
The perfect Word of God; the sure testimony of the Lord; the right and pure and clean and enduring and true Book of Books - why did God give it to us? Psalm 19:11 – He gave it to us to warn us. One of these days you will be leaving earth… Are you ready?? Are you prepared?
Then, finally, please note that Psalm 19:11 informs us that God gave us His book – not to college dust – but to call forth obedience and through that obedience to this Book, to open the door for us into a life of great, God-sent rewards!

The B-I-B-L-E – yes, that IS the Book for you and me.

Let’s pray –
“Heavenly Father, in a group - even of this size – it’s possible that someone has been directly or indirectly affected by the hurt and horror of abortion. Unwed mothers, surprised and disappointed parents, teenage fathers, even siblings and friends have been affected and crushed by the pain. You know their pain, just like You know the unborn infant from the moment he or she is conceived. You also offer to them hope, healing and forgiveness – through the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. Lord, if there be any here today, who need that hope, that healing and that forgiveness, would You call them to Yourself that You might grant these to them abundantly. And, would You give us the grace to minister to them with Your compassion.
In Jesus’ name,

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